The perfect blend: Epoch Coffee supporting SAFE’s anti-violence workWritten by Antwon R. Martin
Preventing violence and abuse requires a community effort. We all have something to contribute, including our business partners throughout the Austin area.
We’re thrilled to recognize our friends at Epoch Coffee for taking an active role in violence prevention. Epoch is known for collaborating with local orgs on everything from neighborhood cleanups to clothing swaps. Recently, Epoch partnered with Good Work Austin, a community of more than 50 local businesses working to keep employees safe and healthy throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Through GWA, Epoch connected with SAFE Institute, our professional services division that focuses on training businesses to prevent harassment in the workplace (you can learn more about SAFE Institute here)
Epoch’s work to prevent harassment
As Epoch Director of Operations Randi Hensley explains, the local coffee chain had a harassment policy that was clear, but “it didn’t feel like it had a lot of substance to it that set up good expectations.” This is common, especially in small businesses, and it’s the kind of thing a lot of places wouldn’t give much thought to.
But Epoch wanted to make sure they were sending a clear message that workplace harassment wouldn’t be tolerated.
“In the service industry, I feel like people just kind of get used to being harassed,” Randi says, “like this is just one of those things that happen when you work a job with tips. It was really important for my staff to not feel that way. To not feel that’s the expectation.”
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And so, Epoch got in touch with SAFE to take the proactive step of making sure staff are trained to prevent sexual harassment and respond effectively if it takes place. Their entire management team is trained as well as many of their hourly staff. In addition, Epoch is incorporating elements of the training into their new employee orientation.
“One of the things people always say when you ask what they expect in the workplace is ‘I want to be treated like a human being,’” Randi says. “I wanted to do anything I could do to help workers raise the expectation of how people in the service industry deserve to be treated, even after they leave Epoch.”
One of Randi’s hopes is that Epoch staff will take the training they receive and the workplace culture they experience with them in their next jobs and throughout their lives.
How workplace harassment training is anti-violence work
Violence starts with the sexist attitudes, queer-phobic comments, unwanted touching, and so many other aspects of sexual harassment and harassment in general. When people come to expect this treatment in the workplace, it normalizes those behaviors.
And as people—including victims—accept harassment as normal, those behaviors are free to escalate to groping, threats of violence, stalking, and other forms of physical and sexual violence. Preventing workplace harassment is one step in the process of changing the attitudes that allow violence to flourish.
In Austin area, businesses that receive harassment prevention training through SAFE Institute are also contributing to SAFE’s work to directly support survivors of sexual assault, family violence, child abuse, and sex trafficking. The proceeds from these trainings help fund our emergency shelters, counseling programs, legal services, healthy parenting education, and much more. These investments help build a safer community in Austin and beyond.
More about Epoch Coffee and SAFE
Epoch has been an Austin staple providing great coffee since 2006 and the business owners have been part of Austin’s coffee scene for much longer. Longtime Austinites might remember Mojo’s on the drag in the 1990s, where the owners Epoch previously worked. Their vision for Epoch was a coffee shop where they could hang out with their friends.
Training Epoch staff wasn’t SAFE’s first time working with Epoch. Over the years, the Austin café has donated portions of drink sales to SAFE. And during the pandemic, Epoch handed out yard signs that advertised SAFE’s services for survivors of family violence.
“Our customers want to help,” Randi says, “but they don’t always know what to do. If you can pick up yard signs here, or buy this drink that is a donation, those are ways that don’t cost people a lot of money but very much make a difference.”
Check out Epoch Coffee’s locations, menu, and more here.
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